My Battle with Ick.


Premium Member
So I'm a newb -- and I have been bitten by the infamous Blue Tang ick bug. There have been lessons learned over the past few weeks. I wanted to share my thoughts, results and see what everybody thinks and ask for any other ideas.

Its a long read, but its a hot button topic. I know there are a few of you out there getting ready to insist on letting the tank go fallow (6 weeks) and treat with the only known cures to ick is hyposalinity and/or medication inside a QT. That to me is a last resort and I am preparing for that. So please, no need to fan those flames. (Still in need of a refractometer if anybody has a good site for one of those)

Up until this week I didn't have a QT tank setup so I introduced a fish into my tank whom had ick. This won't happen again (I swear -- poor little fella) -- I think everyone has to go through this once soo -- cheers to popping my Ick cherry.

I also know that when you are trying to purge a tank of ick I need to let the tank be fish less for 6 weeks.

Two weeks ago I had decided to try "alternative" ick treatments first which included a large water change (~50%), stress relief, neon goby, ick kick, garlic and ginger.

I have "marinading" the fish food in a solution which contained grated garlic, ginger and zoe.

The ick has been cycling on and off the Tang (the only fish affected) but has yet to go completely away.

My tank is in a "high traffic" section of the room and by high traffic I mean my roommate has to walk past the tank (within 2 feet) to get to his bedroom. I think this may be causing the Tang some stress.

I've been thinking about wrapping some sort of blanket/towel around the tank to keep him from bugging out while he is in "stress reduction" time. Anybody ever try this?

This morning the Ick was worse than ever. Maybe about 5-6 cists on bosh sides of his body -- so I am prepared to QT this weekend. But because my tank has 5 damsels in it -- its going to mean a complete tank breakdown. (I hear there buggers to catch)

Is there anything I may have missed in my "alternative" treatment or could be done differently?

I think I read about higher temperatures?
Ick is a weird thing. My experience with tangs is based upon water quality and stress. Those damsels are mean little buggers. Could be harassing it. How's your levels testing right now? Check out Premium Aquatics for the refractometer.
UV sterilizers DO WORK but only if they are used properly. Consult someone knowledgable enough to let you know the right GPH for what watt uv sterilizer you use. Don't use Turbo twists, theres no scientific proof that turbotwists work, i use two uv sterilizers and no ich. But honestly UV sterilizers only help reduce the number of cists. and Only kills them while they are waterborn not while their in the substrate.

As far as temperature, higher temperature only increases the metabolism of ich, thus reproducing faster. This is an effective strategy if you're using UV sterilizers, but of course it takes water changes (to get some of the ich thats in the substrate out) as well as alot of time.

Now what i found out was that the medicated food that fish farmers/wholesalers use is REALLY REALLY effective. I've talked to John Reiner (a LFS owner and the most experienced man i know) and he sol dme this food, i have a tank full of tangs and NO ICH. Now some people will say the food doesnt work, but you have to feed it to them repeatively through out the day and a continued 30 days minimum after the first signs of no ich. I think the food changes the meaty composition of the fish in itself and thus the parasites dont like it, thus no hosting, thus dead ich due to starvation (kinda of the same principle of having no fish for 6 weeks or so). Others will say that ich is resistant to this food, but thats only true in freshwater fish because its widely used in the FW Fish farms but in SW, it's not used as much and seems to work very well

Unfortunetly im waiting for class tos tart and i cant recollect the specific name of the type of food, but shoot me a pm to remind me and ill pm you the name and information about the food. It's the cheapest, easiest, and most effective way (with out being a complete pain in the ***) to treat ich. Theres also other foods to treat certain ailments. such as Cloudy eye (which my blue tang cought as a secondary disease).

Gimplar: thanks for the Info .. your mailbox is full so I can't PM you. I would like to know of this type of food.

I've been trying to mix it up still .. (flake, mysis, copopods, formula 2)

drummereef: I have been watching the Damsels like a hawk and they don't ever seem to annoy the Tang (he is much bigger than him) -- I've seen them both dart for food at the same time and the Damsel (the largest) will avoid getting in his way.

Thanks guys.. Any more?
It's not a certain source of protein (such as mysis or fomula foods) but rather a medicated food, np for the info, i kno whow it is to stress over ich. unfortunetly i lost my beautfful Powder brown to ich. Im in class right now, my pm box should be open now. But a combination of a UV sterilizer, normal temp water 78ish F, i wouldnt use warm water treatment cause that may cause you to loose complete control and further increase your ich problem, and i would also use the medicated food.
Also -- if the tang was heavily infected .. couldn't the stress of changing tanks do him in :(

How long does it take for ick to kill a fish? Days, Weeks, Months?

Depends I assume --
Defintely moving a fish out of a tank can increase stress drastically (especially if you're chasing him all over gods creation) which will affectively decrease the strength he has to fight off the ich itself. As far as how long it takes to kill a fish, it all depends on how bad your ich infestation is. so yes you are correct it does depend ont he situation

But if you just have 5 parasites on each side of the fish and he isnt breathing heavily you may still have time to save him, but of course the methods of treatment that i explained earlier, is only effective when you act hastfully and dont hesitate to start the treatment, feedintg he fish by the food alone is a way to defeat the ich but it takes time (i saw results within 2-3 days, but results would vary) Uv Sterilizers (in my opinion) helps give you more time cause it helps keep the parasite numbers down

AND OF COURSE, all of this is my own personal experience, i dont have a degree in ichthyology or any degree in particular, but this is what i've encountered on a personal level and my experiences with treatments.

I was goign to do a QT but i figured i'd do it when i dint think the food would work. I woul dhave copper medications and a QT ready for any triage cases you may have.